The second set and Schumann's Traumerei
Rie Tanaka's impromptu performance of Chopin's Fantasy Impromptu blew everyone away. This ended the first set.
During the intermission, several pianists tried out the Steinway vleugel. [Vleugel means wing in Dutch - the term for a grand piano.] Others walked into the kitchen for the variety of tapas dishes that Klaus, Erik, and Mascha had created during the kitchen conversations.
Still others topped up their glasses with freshly made sangria, red wine, white wine, or juices. A few grabbed another bottle of beer from the overstuffed refrigerator.
After some time, an hour at most, the guests were hungry for more music. I decided to give the Steinway a rest and asked Robert Bekkers and Erik Templeman to play guitar duos by Carulli.
The audience fell quiet. The guitar is a plucked instrument whose sound is much gentler than the piano. Erik introduced his hand-built custom-made guitar which was considerably louder and fuller in tone than Robert's. He demonstrated its rich sound by playing a few solo pieces.
Afterwards, the audience asked for Robert to play a duo with me on Erik's guitar. Amazingly, Erik's guitar required no amplification because, in Erik's words, it was the Steinway of guitars. We played the first movement of Torroba's Sonatina, which was originally written for solo guitar and later transcribed for guitar and harpsichord.
When asked if they could hear the guitar, the audience claimed that they could hardly hear the Steinway. So I asked Allan Segall to play Sweelinck to restore the grandeur of the piano.
How shall we end the second set, I thought to myself. There was a unanimous cry for Rie to play another piano piece. Having played a fast and dramatic piece earlier, she announced that she would play a slow one.
I remember playing Robert Schumann's Traumerei (Op. 15 No. 7) as a child on Okinawa. It's not a difficult piece as he deliberately wrote it for children -- in his famous Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood). Traumerei means dreaming. But to be able to play it to get the audience to dream requires considerable skill.
I watched from the kitchen where I was preparing the final hot dish - roasted spiced chicken wings. The audience sat still, totally mesmerized by Rie's massaging of Schumann's music. Long after the final note was played, the audience awoke from their dreams. Only then did we applaud, reluctant to return to the reality of this intimate home concert.
24 June 2004 Thursday